Female Identity and Empowerment in South Africa: Socio-Historical Context

This is the second section of the paper/album composition I am writing for my African popular music and politics class. This section focuses of the socio-historical context of my topic. The paragraph includes important historical facts that shaped today’s idea on gender identity and empowerment of women in South Africa.

   One of the most apparent origins of gender discrimination is from the apartheid system that formed in 1982. The system was used to cement control over economic and the social system in South Africa. Another motive for this system was to maintain white domination while furthering racial separation (Chokshi, et al, 1995). Laws were put into place that further oppressed black women and even men. Race lawsaffected social life. In 1931, white women were allowed the right to vote and black women and men followed about 60 years later. The next major law created was the Population Registration Actof 1950. This law allowed the government to racially classify all South Africans into three groups; white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent) (Chokshi, et al, 1995).  To further the discriminatory actions, in 1950 the Pass laws were extended to black women (Wittman, 2012). Black women and men were then expected to carry “Pass books” that contained fingerprints, photo, and additional information an access to non-black areas (Chokshi, et al, 1995). Women in South Africa began protests 6 years later and that resulted in ‘National Women’s Day’ a public holiday (Wittman, 2012).


*Chokshi , Monal, et al. (1995). “The History of Apartheid in South Africa.”www-cs-8students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/apartheid.hist.html.

*Wittman, Veronika. (2012) “Gender and empowerment in South Africa”, Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Vol. 6Isue: 4., pp. 246 –260, https://doi.org/10.1108/17504971211279518


Female Gender Identity and Empowerment In South Africa: Personal Opening

For my Intro to African popular music and politics class, I have to create a album of songs that relate to a category that we have studied in class. In this album compilation i have to include; personal opening, socio-context of my topic, critical commentary for the listed songs, and how this topic is significant in African society.

My topic, as you can tell by the title, is female gender identity and empowerment in South Africa.

As I am working on this, I am posting the different sections. This section is from my personal opening. I explain why my topic is important and why I personally chose this to talk about.

“To change the norm, we must speak the language of empowerment, strength and determination. We must be the she-roes that bring courage to the aspiring artists of today. We need to stand behind and strengthen the impact of our fellow female artists in the industry today and going forward” quoted Rogue; a South African female rapper trying to overcome challenges of African female artists.(2016)*. As a woman, I can identify with the oppression of females and wanting to inspire other women in changing the views of a male-dominated society. Females in Africa, and across the world, may be aware of their subordinate position but this does not mean they comprehend the structural causes of discrimination and subordination. Popular music in South Africa is changing the perspective on gender identities and results in a movement of gender actualization and engagement for women. It is important for other women to engage in self-organization to raise awareness with perspective and ability to challenge unequal power relations in society (Wittman, 2012).


*ROUGE Releases New Single SHEBA NGWAN O’. (2016, July 15). Retrieved from http://www.recordingstudios.co.za/south-african-music-news/rouge-releases-new-single-sheba-ngwan-o/

*Wittman, Veronika. (2012) “Gender and empowerment in South Africa”, Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Vol. 6Isue: 4., pp. 246 –260, https://doi.org/10.1108/17504971211279518


Finals; Im done with stress consuming me.

It’s that time again. The time of the semester that every student just loves… not. Finals, oh how I hate the week and weeks following up to finals. It’s a love-hate relationship; students love that the semester is almost over and a well-deserved break is on the horizon at the expense of an unhealthy amount of stress lingering from the scary final exam. For me, my finals are not cumulative but based on the most recent chapters; others are not that lucky. I pray for those that have to review every objective/key concept from the first week. I also want to send good vibes to the students that are slaying over a final paper. Here is a tip: laminate your paper next time so the tears from crying are not so noticeable on the paper.


Some of the things I have said, or will say, may sound cliche but college students that are struggling, like me, hopefully, can relate. I am not where I want to be in college. I wish I had better grades, I wish I went somewhere else, I wish I knew how to study better. I wish I wouldn’t doubt myself every day in the classroom. I wish I didn’t have to quit my homework because I get so frustrated with not understanding whats going on in the class. I hope every time that I can get through an online homework assignment without having to google the answer. So I have my issues and the only way of dealing with my issues is doing something. So to tried a study schedule; didn’t work because my schedule is so inconsistent. I tried to only study at libraries; nope because I do homework at night and most places close early. Using the tutoring center at school worked well for a few times; it’s mainly used for concepts and not teaching the whole material over again.

Sometimes I think college is all about trying new things and making us feel like we are failing at them but also succeeding at the same time. For every class that I thought I was drowning in, I ended up passing the class. For every paper I stayed up all night writing, I was proud I persevered through and finished it. At the moment I feel like I cant take more, but then i look back at that rough task and think: wow, I did that? wow, I got that good grade? wow, I passed?

My focus in on the long-term goal and how my life now is affecting my end goal. I won’t give up on what I see for myself in the future. I try not to get caught up in the additional stress I put on myself due to college. The cliche phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Its true, I thought that pulling all-nighters writing a paper was going to kill me, now I do them monthly, thanks, professor. When I get frustrated, I need to remind myself that this too shall pass, and it will. The class will end sometime, and something else will begin. This rough patch in life we call “college” will end sometime and we will be in the workforce. This time of our life can go fast, and I want to enjoy it before I am stuck in a career.

Even on my bad days, my life is pretty great.

Dealing with ups and downs, I have realized that even on my bad or dark days I have a pretty great life. I am not writing to brag about my life, but to remind myself that the sun will rise even on my darkest days. Everybody’s dark days are different and my experience doesn’t speak for everybody’s, but maybe it’s relatable.

This semester I have already missed several classes because of not being able to get out of bed. It sounds silly; like how can you physically not be able to move and go attend something for two hours. That is the smallest issue I am dealing with that morning. My alarm goes off, the beeping reminds me that its time to get up and be productive. The thought of having to interact with people makes me regret setting the alarm the night before. The friendly faces that pass me on the way to class, they are happy for another day; why? I barely have the strength to pull my lips back to form a manufactured smile in response to their “good morning” and they pass.  All the fake plans I will have to make up over the weekend to tell my classmates who ask how my weekend went; all the fake questions I have to ask about their weekend. If I don’t respond to them, they will think I am antisocial and don’t like them. Which is true for today, but I hope will not be the case tomorrow.

The professor writes out questions on the board for us to answer, but I don’t volunteer to solve them. The problems are completed in my notebook, but I can’t bear the thought of standing up in front of the classroom; what if my answer is wrong? Halfway through the semester, sitting in a small community college classroom of about 15, I shouldn’t be afraid of the judgment from my classmates; but I am. I know I am not stupid, I know the material, but I don’t want them to see my flaws. I don’t want anybody to see my flaws.

Class comes to an end and before I am out the door, my headphones are in and I am heading home. On my way home, is one of the highlights of this dark day. Home; where my bed is. My bed, the one spot I feel comfortable. The soft mattress helps the blankets engulf me and make me feel safe. The lights are off and the fan is on me, dark and cold places relax me. Trying to balance my anxiety with the environment, I play music. Majority of the music has no upbeat drums, no guitar solos, and nothing but calm slow music. One artist I prefer is James Arthur. His low voice with the slow pace helps to ease my mind.

My biggest mountain I have yet to climb is the thought of why I feel this way on my bad days. I can blame the unbalanced chemicals in my brain, or scarier, try to figure out what is making me so depressed and anxious. My life is pretty good, compared to what It could be. I could still be running around with my group in high school; the parties, drugs, alcohol and created a life of just those things. I’m glad to have parents that support me while trying to get my life started. I have great friends who go beyond to help me. It helps that my friends also want to better their futures and keep pushing me to keep going. My amazing boyfriend is always there for me when I need him. I can’t explain how thankful I am for him. Without going into detail about my life, I have more to be thankful for then to be worried or depressed about. The ideas of what I want my future to be, keep me going and trying to overcome my bad days. I keep telling myself that its worth it in the end; like everybody does. It’s about time I believe what I’m telling myself. The dark days make me forget all about these beautiful aspects of my life. I am blessed to be alive even though it may not seem like it today, but tomorrow is a new day. 

Hope Saved Me From Being a Statistic

zayla dogs

**This piece is a dramatic monologue and is read as a playwright piece. **

Fourteen-year-old girl, Zayla enters wearing jeans and her favorite blue shirt with the words “Science Olympiad” on the front and had clip art images of a microscope, an atom, and a ruler. Zayla stands in the middle of a dark stage with one spot light on her.  She carries a stuffed dog in her arms.

            In the U.S. there are over 18 million alcoholics. Those 18 million alcoholics are affecting about 26.8 million children. I am one of those children. Just because my father is an alcoholic that makes me more likely to follow his footsteps and develop a drug abuse problem when compared to other children without alcoholic parents.

[Zayla starts moving her hands when talking. Keeping motions light and within her body frame.]

Also, I am more likely to develop depression or anxiety, antisocial and behavioral problems, just because my dad decided that this liquid is more important than his own family. All the times he yelled at us because he ran out of beer. All the times that I stayed in my room crying because my mom was at work, and Dad was too wasted to drive for a beer run. But, you see, I won’t be another statistic.

[Zayla starts evenly pacing while looking focused, almost thinking out loud. The hand motions continue]

My mother words too hard to support my father, his habit, and myself. She always makes my education a priority. She always loves to hear the nerdy things I learn in class every day or how I am preparing for the Science Olympiad competition coming up.

[Zayla lets out a small chuckle, followed by a brief pause.] We both have seen the effects of what alcoholism can do. [Zayla adds emphasis to the words ‘refuse/refuses’ every time] My mom refuses my future to become dependent on alcohol. She refuses to let this monster consume me and even consume herself. I refuse to let myself fall into that hole. I refuse to be consumed by this nasty disease. I refuse to be another statistic.

[Zayla holds up her stuffed dog at chest level. Admiring the dog’s short brown fuzz and floppy dark brown ears. She lifts one front paw and lets it fall back down]

This dog; is just not a stuffed dog that a fourteen-year-old girl is attached to for materialistic reasons. This dog represents hope and strength. When I was five, my dad was on a drinking binge all day. He consumed more than usual and he also became madder than usual. Mother just got home, she was late because work made her stay over. My dad had been out of beer for about two hours too long. [Zayla’s hand motions become larger and more frequent. The motions extending outside her body frame.] The yelling… the cussing… made our living room seem like a battle field. I covered my ears behind my closed bedroom door. Mother came to my room and told me with a sob in her voice… [Zayla stands still in the middle of the stage, her tone is depressed. Both of her hands grasp the dog and lowered to her waist.] “We’re going on a beer run.” I remember looking in her eyes and it looked like an ocean was going to pour out.

[Pause, and starts with a calm tone]

We walked up to the gas station that was down the street from our house. There I found this dog [Zayla brings the dog up to eye level, then lowering the dog and hands to a more relaxed position at chest level.] I named it hope. My mother bought a six pack for my dad instead of a twelve pack so she could buy me this stuffed dog. She got down on one knee in that gas station and told me that if she buys me this dog, the dog will protect me from dad’s actions. She told me the dog will keep me safe and always be there when I need someone to talk to. My mom told me that Hope, the dog, will always be there for me when she’s not there.

Since the age of five, Hope has been there for me. Hope has never left me nor I left it. Hope is there making sure I do not become like my father. [Pause] Hope makes sure I do not become another statistic.

[Zayla hugs the dog and exits the stage.]

Ode To Softball

I grab my helmet and my lucky bat,

High five my team on the way out,

I run to the plate and get into my stance.

Knees bent and hands close to my ear; perfect.

While the crowd cheers on for my homerun chance,

The cheers from my teammates echo from the dugout.


The games on the line,

The scores 8 to 9.

Two outs and my last at bat,

Here comes the ball,

Strike one,

Strike two.


My heart’s beating like tap dancing shoes,

One more strike and my team will lose.

The pitcher starts her wind up,

Here comes the ball, again.

I see the neon ball hit my bat,



I smack the ball,

Like a rocket ship through the skies.

It flies and flies and flies.

I run and run and run.

Rounding third base my coach tells me to head home,

It’s risky, head down and pumping my arms with every leap I take.


The ball rolls in,

Looking at the ball, then the plate, then the ball,

Will I make it home?

The catcher, ready to catch the ball and block my slide,

Inches away I am from home,

Teammates cheer on for a homerun.


I slide; I slide under the tag,

I’m safe and the score is mine,

The score is ours; my team’s.

I couldn’t have done it alone;

Teamwork is what I needed,

To make it home.

This was an assignment for my creative writing class; I had to write an Ode to a hobby or an object. I chose softball because it was such a big part of my life growing up. Starting at the age of five with tee-ball, I grew up spending my summers on dirt and winters inside on turf. Softball allowed me to be on many teams, meet a lot of other girls, have great coaches, and travel all over the country. This sport also allowed me to experience collegiate softball until medical issues occurred and I had to end my career.  I miss this sport, I miss the weekend-long tournaments, and I miss the sound of the ball hitting the bat.

One Patient At a Time

Nurses fill the hospital with a sense of hope,

The bright blue scrubs radiate in the chaos,

But the nurse is trying to save the patient’s life.

Doctors fill the patient’s families head with worry,

But their white long coat ensures they are trustworthy

And the family allows the doctor to continue treatment.

The hustle of the hospital stresses the workers,

the scrubs tell the story of their 12-hour shift

while they work as a team to save lives

The doctors stress over the loss of their patients,

Their scrubs are soaked in blood,

The doctor tried everything they could do

The family in the waiting room is filled with disbelief,

the bright colors of their clothes cannot even brighten this moment,

the family is morning the loss of a loved one

The lifeless body lays on the hospital bed,

Their clothes are ripped, torn, and soaked,

The team steps away to catch their breath

The room is cleaned and prepped,

The doctors change to fresh scrubs

And prepare for the next patient.